MANILA, Philippines -- A Pasay City school filed Monday a civil case against software firm Microsoft Corp. and its local subsidiary, Microsoft Philippines, for alleged illegal distribution of copyrighted material.
The case stemmed from Microsoft?s allegedly unauthorized and illegal ?digital copying? and distribution of a locally developed manual on the use of Microsoft Office. Ironically, Microsoft has been at the forefront of attempting to curb the illegal distribution of its own copyrighted software in the Philippines. The company is a member of the Business Software Association, an organization which in turn works with the Optical Media Board and the Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team to conduct raids on copyright-infringing software in the country.
The registered copyright of the manual in question is owned by Southeastern College (SEC), which filed the case against Seattle, US-based Microsoft and its Philippine office at the Makati City Regional Trial Court.
Originally titled ?The SEC Microsoft Office XP Manual,? the 379-page manual was copyrighted in 2005 by SEC director Conrad Mañalac for the exclusive use of teachers and students. It is filed with the National Library with registration No. A-2005-799 and assigned ISBN (international standard numbering system) No. 971-9272-1-2 by the National Library?s Bibliographic Services Division. Mañalac said work on the manual began in 1999.
In 2004, Microsoft Philippines reportedly purchased licenses to print 10,000 copies of the SEC manual, now retitled ?Innovate: A Mentor?s Guide to ICT Foundation Competencies,? which was used for the company?s ?Partners in Learning? program for high school teachers.
In October 2006, Microsoft distributed the manual (in PDF format) through CDs as part of its corporate giveaways during two separate events.
?SEC has never given Microsoft or any other person authority to reproduce and/or distribute (Innovate) in CDs,? said Atty. Estelito Mendoza, legal counsel for SEC.
He added: ?SEC only consented to the printing of 10,000 book copies. The making of the CDs, as well as its copying and distribution, grossly violates Southeastern College?s economic rights to its intellectual property.?
At least 700 copies of the Innovate CDs were allegedly distributed by Microsoft during its two company-sponsored events.
INQUIRER.net contacted Microsoft Philippines to comment on the case. Mae Rivera-Moreno, public relations and community affairs manager of the company, said they are still consulting lawyers regarding its public statement about the lawsuit and that they would issue a reply Monday.
The lawsuit charged that Microsoft violated Republic Act 8293 or the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines. In a copy of the suit shown to INQUIRER.net, Microsoft allegedly violated two specific provisions: unauthorized reproduction of copyrighted content and public communication of said content.
The CDs in question allegedly contained copyrighted material distributed to teachers in two separate events in 2005 and the 2006. SEC also claimed that Microsoft?s local office also sent the CDs via mail to teachers who were not able to receive copies. The CDs reportedly contained Microsoft?s name and copyright mark on the cover.
In an interview, Atty. Mendoza referred to the act as a ?bare-face? case of copyright infringement. It is also regarded as the first legal case of IP violation filed versus Microsoft in the Philippines.
?But Microsoft has reason to be happy,? he added. ?This case demonstrates even more strongly that in the Philippines, we do not tolerate counterfeiting, we give protection to intellectual property."